Robert Henke: Signal to Noise

Imbalance, 2004

Signal to Noise cover

Monolake’s Robert Henke based this album on the sound of the Yamaha SY77 FM synthesizer. He processed recordings of the instrument into two long drones which gradually shift and erode like ominous wind. Occasionally, higher pitches emerge—ethereal chords that remind the listener to focus. Other times this music cleanses the brain, causing me to lose track of time. Henke calls the third track, “Studies for Thunder,” “sonic sculpture,” and the term rings true. He composed an artificial storm while real thunderstorms swept through Berlin. There’s a sense of drama in these compositions that reminds me of Henke’s background in film. With one ten-minute track sandwiched between two twenty-minute ones, there’s plenty of time to breathe deeply and sink into Henke’s amazingly natural-sounding artificial world.

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